There is quite a bit of misconception about the Trinity. People get really upset when you have any sort of discussion that could change their opinion of the Holy Trinity of Christianity. I’m hoping I can clear up a few things about it.
Christians are Monotheistic
The trinity is often confused with a polytheistic belief. We believe in YHWH. Sure, we have a lot of theology and doctrine devoted to which persons in the Trinity do what, but in my opinion, that is a waste of doctrine, theology, and discussion. Here is the shortened version: One God, One Throne. To expand that, we worship one God, and it is the Christian belief that there is one throne in heaven where Jesus will reside. “What about Jesus sitting on the right hand of God?” Yes, I am anticipating your indoctrinated questions. Hebrews 12:2 should make every Christian scratch their heads if you take the literal approach: either Jesus isn’t God (they are two separate beings) which makes Jesus a liar, or there are two thrones in heaven. If there are two thrones, then how do we worship a trinity unless there is a throne for the Holy Spirit (the bible doesn’t mention anything about that…). So, we can either ignore this, commit heresy, or see this as a figure of speech. I have heard some say Jesus is God’s “right hand man,” which has some implications on an immediate ideas (is there a separation between God and Jesus?), but as a general idea, I think it’s fair to say that Jesus was God encapsulated in flesh, and that as a direct result did the absolute work of God because He simply was God.
I’m just going to state this simply: if we are monotheistic, then why is there a concern over which name we use in worship. Worship, in the church, is a heated topic. How do you worship, who do you direct worship to, what can we consider modern idolatry, and so on and so on. God desires to be worshipped, and that is evident from Genesis. In the Old Testament, I do not see ANY reference to God asking to be worshipped with this name or that name. God (detectably) didn’t reveal the trinity outright to the Israelites, and yet their worship of YHWH was completely valid. Jumping ahead to John’s Revelation, the only figure being worshipped directly is Jesus. How do we integrate both of these worship concepts? By worshipping God. The Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is God. God the Father is, of course, God. One God. Some would call me a heretic because there is so much church history and so many church councils dealing with this sort of theology, but I am going to just state this plainly as I understand it. The Trinity is just a construct God allowed so we, as human beings, can have a fuller understanding of His character (but don’t put too much into that, because then we could say God is schizophrenic…).
Trinity in Salvation
Some people have issue with some sort of standard “sinner’s prayer,” or some gibberish like that. Some people pray, “Jesus, come into my heart,” others pray, “Father God, I want to follow you,” and still others, “Holy Spirit, I invite you into my life.” Very rarely do I hear about someone asking God as a wholistic version of the Trinity to bring them to a point of Christian salvation. People get wrapped up in what part each Trinitarian person plays in salvation. Once again, there is ONE God who saves.
I said this to my pastor, and (s)he thinks I’m a heretic
Does your pastor believe in One God? Doesn’t sound like it. I do not want people to go out and proclaim there is no trinity; that is not my message. My message is not to get obsessed with it. I lead music-worship in my college’s chapel every Friday (give or take a holiday or two), and one thing the chapel coordinator usually brings up to each worship leader is how often we include the whole trinity into our specified time of worship through music. There is no room in this system for monotheism – we are practically taught to view God as three separate divisions, and make complex theologies on how these separated persons are somehow intertwined. It’s an over-complication, in my humble opinion. I don’t believe God is simple, by any means, but I also fail to see why Christians have a desire to try and make it more complicated than what we can explain. What happened to the mystery of God that Paul wrote about? Why did we choose reason over revelation?
This post has probably left you with more questions, or maybe removed some answers that seemed definite to you. I think it’s humbling to leave room for the unknown of God. God reveals to us what humanity needs to a basic understanding of Him so we can come into relationship with Him. God never once said “understand Me.” God left, I would argue, a lot of gaps on purpose, so we are left to push our relationship with Him to the limits to desire Him. I am openly proclaiming that it is impossible on our own understanding to figure God out, so I urge you to ask God to examine your relationship with Him, and to specifically strengthen it.
The best prayer I can think of is this (don’t worry, it’s short, and isn’t Christian-ese): “God, reveal yourself to me, please.”